Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Gas Challenge

I left on a class trip to the beach a few days ago (sweet class, right?) and during the preceding week, I busied myself on the latest gas mileage-improving methods available without cost on the internet. I ran across a few myths (like properly inflated tires don’t really save gas, nor does replacing a dirty air filter) and re-affirmed some old knowledge (cruise-control is good so long as you’re on a flat road; going 75-80 mph cuts travel time but worsens fuel economy compared with driving 55-60). I still changed my air filter (in my mind, it will help the engine start a little smoother) and properly inflated my tires (over-inflated tires have less of a tread and less resistance on the road, therefore they actually improve mileage; however, over-inflated tires also wear faster and are less safe since they provide less traction). Being the rebel that I am, I didn’t bring directions to my destination, instead relying on one of my co-pilots’s “navigator,” a GPS mapping function available on Verizon phones. For whatever reason, her navigator took us away from the interstate and onto smaller highways. This route still worked out well, because: 1)the scenery was better 2)we were not in a hurry 3)I could cruise at around 55 mph, a much more fuel-efficient speed than the 65-75 norm on an interstate.

I tend to avoid using air-conditioning to save gas (instead just cutting up the fan on the car HVAC unit), but my passengers preferred AC and one of them bought me a tank of gas, so that was a good trade-off. I have also been trying to accelerate usually slowly, in addition to my heavy reliance on 55-mph cruise control travel. I was reasonably pleased when I got my last gas, topping off my tank with 10.3 gallons after driving 309 miles- or about 30 miles per gallon. This pleased me because my nine-year-old car is rated by the EPA (which Consumer Reports has shown over-estimated many of its mileage figures) to get 30 miles per gallon on the highway (19 in the city). Basically, I consider it a victory when I can achieve the stated highway mileage in my car while running the AC while mixing some city driving with my highway treks. I think I’ll continue my gas-sipping routine on the ride home, too.

No comments: